Wednesday, 8 February 2023

Old Man Yells At Cloud - my Facebook posts

 I realised this week that I'm posting a few things on Facebook that do make me sound like a very old man being reactionary about the century he's now forced to live in. And although that is occasionally how I feel, it's largely not. And I'm certainly not a whingeing Daily Mail reading anti-Woke "Old Man Yelling At Clouds". I hope. But when a couple of my posts attracted "that" sort of comment, I had cause to ponder. Here for example is me showing sympathy for Harry Styles at the Grammys...


Feb 7: I know what Harry Styles means by “people like me” not winning Grammys. He’s working class and Northern.

Who was the last British Northern working class pop star to win a Grammy?
*Googles* So far I find Robbie Williams had 2 noms 0 wins, Take That not even a nom, Spice Girls no nominations. Go on, find me a Northern working class Brit with a Grammy, then you can have a go at Harry Styles.
Update: I've googled again, and there have been 90 British acts nominated for Grammys, which doesn't seem like many. And some of the most likely contenders didn't even win one - Queen for example. I haven't totted up how many are "Northern" or "working class", but considering the first five people to fall into that category are either former Beatles or Sting, I stand by my original point - being Northern and working class and British means that you're allowed to say "people like me don't often win Grammys". QED.

So far so innocuous I thought. Indeed the only comments for a bit were people trying to find Northern working class examples (and suggesting Billy Bragg and Paul Weller, which rather proved my point). Then I got this comment:

Bless him for not being a ME ME ME pronoun user

I mean, what? Where did that come from? But, I guess, if I'm being reactionary about the response to Harry Styles (which, I realise, is from Americans thinking that when you say "people like me" you mean white, which is not what Harry Styles meant) then I can appearing to be singing from the same songsheet as people who have a problem with pronouns. 

For the record, a couple of years ago I did make the gag that Sam Smith calls themselves 'they' because they are both Sam Smith and Tom Petty. And you will find me discussing whether another term that isn't also a plural wouldn't have been a better choice. But I'm happy with people's choice of pronouns, thankyou very much. (Not least because the Scottish Falsetto Socks are beneficiaries of the trend - no danger of an MC referring to "him" rather than "them" any more.)

Here was another post where I realised I was being reactionary, and questioned it out loud:


Feb 2: 
Watching The Apprentice again. Do we really have to pretend we don’t think lip fillers look awful? Is it really body shaming to tell people we think they’re doing possible permanent damage to their faces? What happens, after years of over stretching the skin, when it has to contract?
And worst of all, is it supposed to make people look more wealthy or upmarket? Cos it invariably makes people look common.
Am I the bad one for thinking these things?

This time it was a good friend's comment, from the side of the angels, that made me feel like the bad guy. They wrote:

You should be able to do what you like with your own body without fear of judgement or ridicule. I expect a lot of people think I’m “common” cos I’m covered in tattoos but it’s fuck all to do with them

You see my dilemma. Because I'm old, un-tattooed, un-surgeoned, cis-male, binary, white, and lower middle class, I stand outside many of the cultural debates that rage around me, and try to stay informed. Sometimes it's hard to not appear to be the enemy. I'm not, honest.

*******

Here are some more recent, less contentious, posts.


Feb 1: Although I had sympathy with the flat owners you can see from the Tate (I’ve looked into their lounges too, and it felt rather invasive) I’ve long wondered why people live in places that you can see right into.
Why do people with the most money and, you’d think, the most to hide live in these goldfish bowls? With a good pair of binoculars you could be in the room with them.
And no curtains? Madness.


Hands up who’d forgotten there was a Beano website?
Just don’t go there looking for comic strips!


21st century Polari in action. Folks have to use code. Always have, always will.
100 years ago folks, Inc gay men but also workers in certain jobs, your criminals and others too, used Polari , and also Rhyming Slang and Backslang, and Pidgin, so outsiders wouldn’t understand.
Now kids on TikTok talk about “mascara” and “Le Dollar Beans”. It’s brilliant, inventive, and as old as language itself. Vive la difference engine.


Naturally I agree with everything in this article (and, being in Ireland this week, I've had a few chats about Brexit, during none of which have I been able to explain what Brexiteers were thinking or what they actually wanted. I may never know) but my issue is another of those phrases I've grown to hate:
"Thrown under the bus"
When did this phrase start? How has it become so ubiquitous? And what phrase did we use before?
My other betes noire of the moment are "distruptor", and people saying "100%" when they mean "I agree" (though this might only happen on The Traitors).
Update: Thanks to Louisa in the comments for the Wikipedia link (which I could have found, honestly). It goes on to explain how 'throwing under the bus' explodes in US political journalism in the late 2000s. So it really hadn't been a phrase before then.
The Cyndi Lauper example given, from 1984, has a totally different meaning (being in the bus vs under the bus, suggesting a metaphor of someone clinging on like a stowaway rather than being pushed in front of a moving vehicle).
Wonderful to see how a metaphor develops.


Frankie Goes to Hollywood have rung from 1984. They’d like their story back.


Best quote from this story, from Zoe Kravitz: “It’s completely normal for people to be in the family business. It’s literally where last names came from. You were a blacksmith if your family was, like, the Black family.”


Oh good, something new to hate. Not the show, I’m sure I’ll love that. No, the release date.
On ITVX on Thursday, but not on ITV itself till “a later date”. Which means you can only watch it either a) with adverts you can’t fast forward through or b) by paying extra for it.
Public service broadcasting in 2023. Innit marvellous.


Alexa, give me an example of the worst comedy idea it is possible to have in 2023.


My Books and where to get them:

Findlay Macbeth - Paperback - Kindle - Etsy (signed)
Prince Of Denmark Street - Paperback - Kindle - Etsy (signed)
Midsummer Nights Dream Team  - Paperback - Kindle - Etsy (signed)
Shakespeare Omnibus Collection (all 3 books) - Paperback

Tales From The Bible - Paperback -  Kindle -  Etsy (signed)

Bowie By Robot - Paperback -  Kindle
Eurovision Colouring Vol 1 Amazon -  Lulu £10.94 - Etsy £6.99
Eurovision Colouring Vol 2 - Amazon £15.32 - Lulu £10.72 - Etsy £6.99
Doctor Who Colouring - Amazon £11.84 - Lulu £9.98 - Etsy £6.99
Punk Colouring - Amazon £15.61 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99
70s Pop Star Colouring - Amazon £10.98 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99
60s Pop Star Colouring - Amazon £12.69 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99



Sunday, 5 February 2023

Noodle Hair Girl - a week of comics by kids in Dublin


Booked at very short notice, thanks to the initiative of Martina the brilliant librarian at St Aidans in Tallaght, this week I did three days of classes in schools in Dublin. She only contacted me the week before, having been in touch with the other schools herself, and a flurry of flight-booking later I was on my way over. Three days of teaching necessitated five overnight stays which, the truth be told, may make it one of the least profitable school weeks of the year. But it's been the most fun so far, and I'll take that.


Rath Dara was the one school that I hadn't visited before, and they were smashing. In the suburb of Blanchardstown, which is bigger than I at first realised. The hotel called itself Carlton Hotel Blanchardstown, but is in fact in Tyrrelstown. And the school is signposted Rath Dara Blanchardstown, but is in fact in Corduff. So, a 45 minute walk between both places. I tell you, relying as I am on public transport, I've been getting my exercise this week.


St Aidans comics. Another big challenge of this week was colouring the comic covers, which I try to do as soon as possible after each visit. But I haven't brought with me my Photoshop-loaded computer, working instead on the MacBook Air which has fewer programs (or Apps, as I believe the kids call them). After a bit of tinkering with downloadable apps that wouldn't work because the operating system's too old, I found onlinephotoshop.com which gives you pretty well the whole thing, working almost as well as it does in real life. So that was a nice find. I bet you couldn't tell that my shoddy colouring has a slightly better excuse for its shoddiness this time around.


Killinarden was the third and final school, after a Wednesday off which had been spent in my hotel room trying to write the crime novels. (I ended up writing a short story, as recorded here). The librarian is the eponymous Canadian called Linda that you see on that front cover.

The celebrities these six groups chose to appear in my demonstration strip were Ariana Grande, Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain, Alex Turner (of Arctic Monkeys), Cardi B, and Bryan Cranston.


My Books and where to get them:

Findlay Macbeth - Paperback - Kindle - Etsy (signed)
Prince Of Denmark Street - Paperback - Kindle - Etsy (signed)
Midsummer Nights Dream Team  - Paperback - Kindle - Etsy (signed)
Shakespeare Omnibus Collection (all 3 books) - Paperback

Tales From The Bible - Paperback -  Kindle -  Etsy (signed)

Bowie By Robot - Paperback -  Kindle
Eurovision Colouring Vol 1 Amazon -  Lulu £10.94 - Etsy £6.99
Eurovision Colouring Vol 2 - Amazon £15.32 - Lulu £10.72 - Etsy £6.99
Doctor Who Colouring - Amazon £11.84 - Lulu £9.98 - Etsy £6.99
Punk Colouring - Amazon £15.61 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99
70s Pop Star Colouring - Amazon £10.98 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99
60s Pop Star Colouring - Amazon £12.69 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99


Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Second short story written


Apropos of nothing, a photo taken today in Tallaght. Dracupuncture seemed to me like it would involve a lot of biting. 

Hooray. I got a short story, called Tea Shop, written. It's 3750 words long at the moment and is the second Lady Lucy short story I've done, having written one last Friday.

I was having difficulty with it all day, this being the Wednesday of my week in Dublin, the day between schools. I coloured comic covers, I shillied, and I shallied.

I showed Hev my half finished work, when I was stuck after 4 paragraphs, and she went away and started writing a story of her own. Embellishing (or is that correcting) mine, and going in a direction entirely of her own.

Meanwhile it wasn't until I'd eaten, and come back to my room after 7pm, that I got stuck into writing. And, as is my way, wrote the 3750 words in one sitting.

Bish bash bosh. Hev will of course hate this one too.

But so satisfying to get something completed. Now to take the same application and use it to finish off the two damn novels and get them published, and we'll see if the things sell.


My Books and where to get them:

Findlay Macbeth - Paperback - Kindle - Etsy (signed)
Prince Of Denmark Street - Paperback - Kindle - Etsy (signed)
Midsummer Nights Dream Team  - Paperback - Kindle - Etsy (signed)
Shakespeare Omnibus Collection (all 3 books) - Paperback

Tales From The Bible - Paperback -  Kindle -  Etsy (signed)

Bowie By Robot - Paperback -  Kindle
Eurovision Colouring Vol 1 Amazon -  Lulu £10.94 - Etsy £6.99
Eurovision Colouring Vol 2 - Amazon £15.32 - Lulu £10.72 - Etsy £6.99
Doctor Who Colouring - Amazon £11.84 - Lulu £9.98 - Etsy £6.99
Punk Colouring - Amazon £15.61 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99
70s Pop Star Colouring - Amazon £10.98 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99
60s Pop Star Colouring - Amazon £12.69 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99

Monday, 30 January 2023

First comics of the year


January was a quieter month for classes than in many years, though I have emailed every school on my list and am hoping to get more bookings as the year goes on. As it was, I did two schools in January, and here are the comics they produced.


I kicked off the year in Andoversford in Gloucestershire, and promptly scuppered myself by leaving my flipchart pad behind. Not only was it a nice new blank pad, but it had with it a few pages of those big flipchart drawings I try and do in every school, you know with lots of characters on. They were "ones I'd prepared earlier," largely from the Zoom class period last year, and I fall back on those when, to be honest, the school doesn't supply a pad so I have to use mine. I can't be arsed, sometimes, to draw a whole brand new page of characters when I've had to schlep my own flipchart stand and paper into a school and waste my own paper. Well, that taught me didn't it? All my "ones I prepared earlier" are now marooned somewhere in Gloucestershire, and I have to draw a new one every time whatever.


Cheshire College in Chester saw me working with older kids, sixth form age, which was an interesting change from primary school kids. They did good stuff. The Christmassy page you can see in the montage above is from the Zoom class I did right at the end of last year.

The four celebs this month's classes chose to appear in my demonstration strip were Elon Musk, Mr Beast, Whitney Houston, and Jeremy Clarkson.


My Books and where to get them:

Findlay Macbeth - Paperback - Kindle - Etsy (signed)
Prince Of Denmark Street - Paperback - Kindle - Etsy (signed)
Midsummer Nights Dream Team  - Paperback - Kindle - Etsy (signed)
Shakespeare Omnibus Collection (all 3 books) - Paperback

Tales From The Bible - Paperback -  Kindle -  Etsy (signed)

Bowie By Robot - Paperback -  Kindle
Eurovision Colouring Vol 1 Amazon -  Lulu £10.94 - Etsy £6.99
Eurovision Colouring Vol 2 - Amazon £15.32 - Lulu £10.72 - Etsy £6.99
Doctor Who Colouring - Amazon £11.84 - Lulu £9.98 - Etsy £6.99
Punk Colouring - Amazon £15.61 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99
70s Pop Star Colouring - Amazon £10.98 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99
60s Pop Star Colouring - Amazon £12.69 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99

Friday, 27 January 2023

Slow progress on writing this month

 Getting just something, anything, written on these crime novels is a small triumph. So it is, with the greatest pleasure, I'm able to say I just wrote a 2000 word short story called The Queue (2135 words, in its current state), starring our protagonist. I read it to Hev who, of course, was able to immediately rip it to shreds and characterise my writing as too funny, and not what we're trying to achieve. But it's the most I've written all month, and I'm happy with it.

At the end of December I completed the first draft of Dead Man's Jest. Clocking in at just 56,500 words I know it needs a lot of work still. But printing it out as a dummy as I did (above) enabled Hev to read it. Now, with her notes, I can begin rewriting it.

Meanwhile I've been looking at To Slay The Dane, and struggled with rewriting that. Rewriting is harder than writing, full stop. So I've printed out a dummy of that which should arrive next week. Hopefully Hev can read that, give me more notes, and I can get some proper rewriting done. I really want to get the books out there so I can find out if you can actually earn money from the damn things, but after 4 months of writing (Sept to Dec, January doesn't count) I still have two first drafts only, and each is only about 50,000 words long.

So, a lot of work to do. But dammit I am going to do it, and so is Hev. The worst thing is I have no excuse for not having written this month. I only had two days of schools (that changes next week when I have 3 days in Dublin, which unfortunately means being there for 5 nights, because of flights and no schools working Wednesdays). 

Also this month I've had three visits to Clevedon (one Doctor visit, then one X Ray, and one blood tests, all three taking much much longer in travel time than in actual execution. The X ray took 30 seconds. The blood test took nearly twice as long). I've also been busy getting all my books back onto Amazon, either via Lulu or Blurb, or directly. Yes that does take time, actually. Days in fact.

Then there was a Society Of Artists meeting one Friday, that took out a day's writing. The roofer came one day, the plasterer came to quote another, we went to the tip on another, and.. oh I have no excuses. January is a month where I am maybe not as productive as later in the year.

(He tells himself, then consults his blog to see Jan 2022 - did Britain's Got Talent and a comic strip for the Goes Wrong Show, Jan 2021 did tons of Socks Zoom shows, Jan 2020 - finished Findlay Macbeth, my debut graphic novel, Jan 2019 - did Mum's funeral, stuck tons of comics on eBay, and made lots of Socks videos, Jan 2018 - did loads of classes... OK, let's face it January 2022 has been my least productive in years.

Now February, that'll be a different kettle of fish...


My Books and where to get them:

Findlay Macbeth - Paperback - Kindle - Etsy (signed)
Prince Of Denmark Street - Paperback - Kindle - Etsy (signed)
Midsummer Nights Dream Team  - Paperback - Kindle - Etsy (signed)
Shakespeare Omnibus Collection (all 3 books) - Paperback

Tales From The Bible - Paperback -  Kindle -  Etsy (signed)

Bowie By Robot - Paperback -  Kindle
Eurovision Colouring Vol 1 Amazon -  Lulu £10.94 - Etsy £6.99
Eurovision Colouring Vol 2 - Amazon £15.32 - Lulu £10.72 - Etsy £6.99
Doctor Who Colouring - Amazon £11.84 - Lulu £9.98 - Etsy £6.99
Punk Colouring - Amazon £15.61 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99
70s Pop Star Colouring - Amazon £10.98 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99
60s Pop Star Colouring - Amazon £12.69 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99

Friday, 20 January 2023

Socks mentioned in the Telegraph. Oh and new gigs

 My thanks to Hazel & Tm in Edinburgh for bringing this to my attention. The Socks get namedropped in an article in today's Telegraph:


There’s an amusing gag in the performances of the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre (look them up) in which unexplained and unconvincing events in Doctor Who plots are dismissed with the line, “I’ll explain later”. It reminds me of politicians’ over-confident predictions that there’s no need to worry...

It goes on to knock Labour and the SNP. It is, after all, a column in the Daily Telegraph. But hey, we get a mention. By the way, if we ever have used that line, we've lifted it wholesale from Steven Moffat in The Curse Of Fatal Death. But always happy to take credit when it's going.

And while we're on, how about a look at the shows the Scottish Falsetto Socks have coming up this spring. We're touring the Eurovision Sock Contest, and here's where you can see it...

17,18,19 Feb - Leicester Comedy Festival

1 Mar Glasgow

3 Mar Eastgate Peebles

15 Mar Aberystwyth Arts

31 Mar New Continental, Preston

1 April Ropewalk Barton

7 April - Rondo Bath 

14 April - Chorley New Theatre

26 April - Harlequin Redhill

5 May - Cornerstone Oxon

11, 12 May - Old Joint Stock, Birmingham


My Books and where to get them:

Findlay Macbeth - Paperback - Kindle - Etsy (signed)
Prince Of Denmark Street - Paperback - Kindle - Etsy (signed)
Midsummer Nights Dream Team  - Paperback - Kindle - Etsy (signed)
Shakespeare Omnibus Collection (all 3 books) - Paperback

Tales From The Bible - Paperback -  Kindle -  Etsy (signed)

Bowie By Robot - Paperback -  Kindle
Eurovision Colouring Vol 1 Amazon -  Lulu £10.94 - Etsy £6.99
Eurovision Colouring Vol 2 - Amazon £15.32 - Lulu £10.72 - Etsy £6.99
Doctor Who Colouring - Amazon £11.84 - Lulu £9.98 - Etsy £6.99
Punk Colouring - Amazon £15.61 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99
70s Pop Star Colouring - Amazon £10.98 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99
60s Pop Star Colouring - Amazon £12.69 - Lulu £10.98 - Etsy £6.99
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